Flying with Sunscreen: Can I pack sunscreen in my checked luggage?

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Can I pack sunscreen in my checked luggage? The short answer is yes. Read the article to find out more!

One thing I never skip in my skincare routine is sunscreen. It’s an absolute must-have, especially when I’m out and about on my trips. I always make sure to have my sunscreen in my bag.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of traveling with sunscreen, covering everything from TSA regulations to packing tips that prevent leaks.

With firsthand experience and practical advice, I’ll help you ensure that your sun protection strategy is as seamless as your travel plans.

Understanding TSA Regulations for Sunscreen


The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has distinct regulations for different types of sunscreen, categorizing them as either liquids, aerosols, or solids.

While solid sunscreens (like stick forms) pass through security without limitations, liquids and aerosols enter a greyer area.

They’re subject to the 3-1-1 rule, which indicates that each traveler can carry liquids, gels, and aerosols in travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.

These must be packed in a single, quart-sized, zip-top, clear bag.

An assortment of TSA-approved personal care products laid out on a wooden surface, including Eucerin pH5 Lotion for dry sensitive skin, Moroccanoil Extra Volume Shampoo, Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Body Scrub, Dettol Aloe Vera Hand Sanitizer Gel, and Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Stick SPF 60. Ideal for travelers questioning if they can pack sunscreen in their checked luggage. Pin
TSA-approved products to bring with you in you carry-on luggage

Overview of the TSA 3-1-1 Rule for carry-on luggage

For those traveling with tots, the 3-1-1 rule might seem daunting. But don’t worry; everyone can have their zip-lock bag with essential toiletries.

If you’re carrying sunscreen in your carry-on, opt for travel-sized bottles.

Remember, this rule doesn’t apply to checked bags, so you can pack larger bottles of sunscreen there without any concerns.

What Exactly Is the 3-1-1 Rule?

Put simply, the 3-1-1 rule is a quick way to remember how liquids must be packed in your hand luggage:  

  • 3: Liquids, gels, and aerosols must be in containers that hold 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.  
  • 1:All your items must fit into one single, clear, quart-sized resealable plastic bag (about 1 liter).  
  • 1: Each passenger is allowed one bag.

Specifics on aerosol, liquid, and solid sunscreens

Solid Sunscreens: The Hassle-Free Option

When it comes to travel-friendly sunscreens, solid options like sticks are your best bet. The TSA doesn’t classify them as liquids, so you can pack them in both carry-on and checked bags hassle-free.

These are super easy to apply and we always use them for areas like cheeks and forehead. But when it comes to bigger areas like legs, they might not be the absolute best or easiest option. That’s why we always have other alternatives on hand too.

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Sunscreen sticks can be useful for small areas, such as the face

Liquid Sunscreens: Following the 3-1-1 Rule

If you’re planning to bring liquid sunscreens like creams and lotions in your carry-on, you’ll need to follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule.

You can pack travel-sized bottles or transfer your favorite sunscreen into a smaller container that adheres to these specific regulations.

If you are checking in luggage, you are allowed to bring a full-size sunscreen with you.

Two children’s sunscreen products against a wooden background, suitable for checked luggage when flying. On the left, Garnier Ambre Solaire Kids Sensitive Advanced Spray with SPF 50, ceramide protection, very water-resistant and in a 100% recycled plastic bottle. On the right, La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dermo-Pediatrics Lotion SPF 50+, specially formulated for sensitive young skin. Both offer high UV protection for safe travel with family. Pin
There are many options for liquid sunscreen.

Aerosol Sunscreens: Special Considerations

Aerosol sunscreens are super popular for their quick application making them perfect for dealing with impatient kids.

The TSA rules stated that you can pack aerosol in both carry-on and checked bag. When it comes to carry-ons, aerosols must also follow the 3-1-1 rule. For checked baggage, you can pack aerosol containers, as long as they don’t exceed 18 ounces per item, with a total cap of 70 ounces.

Just make sure the caps are securely fastened to avoid any messy accidents.

International travel considerations and regulations

Before you take off, take some time to research your destination. It’s good to know that different places may have limited options for sunscreen, and some might even have formulations that don’t meet your family’s needs or preferences.

Places like Riviera Maya in Mexico have strict regulations on sunscreen usage due to the potential harm it can cause to marine life.

They only allow the use of chemical-free sunblocks, so you can only use sunscreens with natural sun filters such as Titanium oxide and Zinc oxide.

In fact, some places and tours even prohibit the use of any sunscreen.

Informational sign about eco-friendly sunscreen options for travelers, which can be packed in checked luggage. The bilingual sign (Spanish and English) advises on protecting marine life by using chemical-free sunblocks and lists natural sun filters like Titanium oxide and Zinc oxide as preferred ingredients. It warns against toxic filters like Benzophenone. The sign features a smiling sun, an illustration of a person floating in the sea with a surfboard, and a seagull, reinforcing the message of ocean conservation. Pin
Xcaret’s Sunscreen Rules

It’s important to be mindful of these guidelines and choose sunscreen options that are safe for the environment.

Sunscreen and Their Benefits


Sunscreen is like a trustworthy friend for our skin, especially for kids who spend lots of time playing in the sun. We all know how important it is to stay safe, and that’s where sunscreen helps us out.

Sunscreen protects them from harmful UV rays while they play and explore. Kids’ skin is very sensitive, so using sunscreen has many benefits.

It helps prevent sunburns, reduces skin damage, and teaches healthy habits.

Comparison of aerosol, cream, and stick sunscreens

Okay, let’s discuss different types of sunscreen and find the best one for your family trips. I’ve made a quick comparison to make it easy for you to choose your sun protection.

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Ideal for: Tropical Beach Getaway

Key benefits: Moisturizing, water-resistant, thorough coverage

Ease of application: Requires effort to rub in thoroughly.

Portability: Easily fits in bags; TSA-compliant sizes available.

Coverage: Can be patchy; requires rubbing in.

Suitability for kids: Teaches thoroughness; patience needed.

Environmental safety: Ocean-friendly and reef-safe.

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Ideal for: Active Adventure

Key benefits: Quick reapplication, covers hard-to-reach areas

Ease of application: Super easy – just spray and go!

Portability: Conveniently compact; keep upright.

Coverage: Full and even coverage.

Suitability for kids: Quick application; avoid eyes and inhalation.

Environmental safety: Less favorable for the environment.

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Ideal for: Urban Exploration

Key benefits: Compact, no mess, precise application

Ease of application: Quick swipe application; precise.

Portability: Highly portable; no mess.

Coverage: Targeted coverage for sensitive areas.

Suitability for kids: Ideal for faces; child-friendly use.

Environmental safety:Reef-safe and minimal pollution impact.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen for Travel


Factors to consider: SPF level, water resistance, formula

So, when it’s time to pick the perfect sunscreen for your family’s trip, there’s a bit more to think about than just grabbing the first bottle off the shelf.

SPF Levels

When choosing a sunscreen for your travels, SPF (Sun Protection Factor) level is a crucial consideration.

SPF 30 is often recommended as a baseline, blocking approximately 97% of UVB rays.

However, if your journey involves destinations with stronger sun exposure or if you’re spending extensive time outdoors, SPF 50 or higher can provide that extra layer of protection, safeguarding your family’s adventures under the sun.

Don’t forget to choose one that offers broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Can I pack a sunscreen in my checked luggage. Various sunscreen products suitable for checked luggage displayed on a wooden floor, including Garnier Ambre Solaire Kids Sensitive Advanced Spray SPF 50, Banana Boat Sport Ultra Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, Avene Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 45, Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Kids Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50, Nivea Kids Protect & Care Spray SPF 50+, Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Watery Sun Gel SPF 50+, Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen SPF 50, and KraveBeauty Beet The Sun SPF 50+. Ideal for travelers planning to pack sunscreen for air travel. Pin
Sunscreens in different sizes and options

Water Resistance

Water-resistant formulas are also a wise choice, especially if your travel itinerary includes swimming, boating, or extensive outdoor exploration.

They’re designed to maintain their SPF protection for a specific amount of time while you’re in water or sweating, making reapplication reminders a crucial part of your sun-safe routine.

Protect Coral Reefs and Ecosystems

When it comes to popular international destinations, we must remember that delicate ecosystems, like coral reefs, need protection.

These beautiful habitats are susceptible to damage from certain chemicals found in sunscreens. So, to do our part, let’s choose reef-safe sunscreens that don’t contain harmful chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Sunscreen in Carry-On vs. Checked Baggage


The choice between putting your sunscreen in carry-on or checked luggage lies in the quantity and type of sunscreen you plan to bring.

For quick weekend getaways where you only need a small amount, travel-sized bottles that comply with the 3-1-1 rule are perfect for carry-on.

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Carry-on vs. Checked baggage

However, if you’re embarking on a longer journey and require more sunscreen or prefer larger aerosol cans, packing them in checked luggage is your best bet. 

Carry-On Considerations

Follow the 3-1-1 Rule: The TSA’s 3-1-1 rule definitely applies to sunscreen in liquid form and aerosol. So, if you’re planning to bring your favorite sunscreen along, make sure it complies with the guidelines.

Families can allocate a bag per person if needed, maximizing the amount of sunscreen they can bring on board.

Convenience vs. Quantity: The trade-off with carry-on baggage is the balance between convenience and quantity limitations.

While it’s convenient to have easy access to items like sunscreen during layovers or upon arrival, there are restrictions on the amount you can bring.

For shorter trips, a well-packed quart-sized bag may be enough, but for longer stays or sunny destinations, you’ll likely need more than what your carry-on can accommodate.

>>> Pin it! <<<

Promotional graphic with the text 'Sunscreen - Can you bring it on a plane?' featured prominently in bold lettering above an image of a child applying sunscreen. The website 'tinytravelersguide.com' is noted at the bottom, providing a resource for readers seeking travel advice, specifically regarding the query, 'Can I pack sunscreen in my checked luggage?' The child's joyful expression emphasizes the importance of sun protection during travel. Pin

Checked Luggage Logistics

Freedom to Pack More: Packing checked luggage allows you to bring along larger quantities of sunscreen without any carry-on restrictions.

This comes in handy, especially for families who need plenty of sunscreen for their sun-soaked adventures.

Balancing Risk: When you pack sunscreen in your checked luggage, the main concern is the possibility of lost baggage.

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So, here’s what I recommend: make sure to pack a day’s worth of sunscreen in your carry-on bag. That way, even if your hold luggage go missing, you’ll still have protection.

And don’t forget about potential leakage! To avoid any spills, pack your sunscreen in sealed plastic bag or small containers.

Can I Pack Sunscreen in my Checked Luggage? Aerosol Sunscreen


Aerosol sunscreens frequently rank at the top of the list due to their convenient and quick application, making them a favorite choice for parents.

However, when it comes to packing, their aerosol nature requires extra consideration. To ensure that your aerosol sunscreens reach your destination safely and avoid any mess, here are some guidelines to follow.

TSA  and FAA regulations for aerosol sunscreens

According to the Hazardous Materials guide from the Federal Aviation Administration, you’re totally good to bring toiletries and medicines on board.

That includes both flammable and nonflammable aerosols, such as hair spray, shaving cream, sunscreen and insect repellent, as long as you protect those nozzles with caps to avoid any accidental sprays. You can pack them in your carry-on or checked baggage.

On the other hand, flammable aerosols that do not fall under the category of toiletry or medicinal articles or any other exceptions, such as aerosol laundry starch, insecticides, spray paint, cooking sprays, and similar items, are not permitted onboard.

Sunscreen falls into the category of toiletries and medicinal products, allowing you to pack it in either your carry-on or checked bag.

A close-up of stacked luggage on the floor at an airport, including a front-facing black wheeled suitcase with an attached white tag, hinting at the common traveler's question, 'Can I pack sunscreen in my checked luggage?' The image captures the anticipation of baggage claim, with a selective blue tone overlay, emphasizing the travel theme. Pin

For cabin bag, aerosols, like all liquids and gels, must adhere to the 3-1-1 rule.

When it comes to checked luggage, the restrictions ease up a notch. You’re allowed to pack larger quantities of aerosol products.

The total volume of all such items shouldn’t go beyond 68 fluid ounces (2 liters), and each container must be 18 ounces (507 grams) or less. I don’t think you’re planning to exceed that limit, are you?

Even if you’re checking in your bags, it’s always a good idea to put aerosol cans in a protective case or a resealable bag. This way, you can prevent any accidental discharge caused by changes in air pressure. Better safe than sorry, right?

How to safely pack aerosol sunscreen to prevent leaks or explosions

When it comes to air travel, aerosol cans are generally not something to worry about. Minor leaks are the most common issue you might encounter, but they are usually not a big deal.

While rare incidents of explosion can occurred, they could be linked to specific circumstances such as overheating.

The pressure differences and heat on planes are usually not extreme enough to make aerosol cans explode.

In fact, the risk associated with aerosol cans during air travel is pretty minimal. We mostly just need to watch out for minor leaks.

Steps to Secure Aerosol Sunscreens

It’s a good idea to stick to these recommendations to keep leaks from happening.

  1. Cap and Tape: Ensure that the original cap of the aerosol sunscreen is securely in place. To provide an additional layer of protection, you may want to consider wrapping the cap area with tape to prevent accidental leakage.
  2. Bag Individally: Put each aerosol sunscreen can in its own sealable plastic bag. This way, if there’s a leak, the sunscreen stays contained and won’t ruin your clothes or other stuff you’ve packed.
  3. Cushion the Can: It can be a good idea to surround it with soft items like clothes, beach towels, or even a travel pillow.

FAQs on Traveling with Sunscreen


Can aerosol sunscreen explode in checked luggage?

It’s unlikely. Aerosols are allowed in checked luggage, but it’s important to pack them securely to prevent accidental leakage, not because of explosion risk.

Can I use sunscreen during a flight?

Absolutely, you can use sunscreen during a flight. It’s a good idea for protection, especially if you’re sitting by a window.

Is sunscreen considered a liquid by TSA?

Yes, sunscreen in cream and spray form is considered a liquid by the TSA. For carry-on luggage, it must adhere to the 3-1-1 liquids rule.

Is Sunscreen Stick Considered a Liquid by TSA?

No, sunscreen sticks are not considered liquids by the TSA and can be carried in your hand luggage without adhering to the 3-1-1 rule.

If you’re traveling with a toddler, here are some posts that you should check out as well:

TRAVEL RESOURCES

✈️ Buy flight tickets in advance

Always buy flight tickets in advance! The place to find the best prices for flight tickets is Skyscanner.com

🏠 Book your accommodation

Booking.com is easy to use and has many options and filters you can use to book in advance and check availability.

🚙 Renting a Car

I recommend Discover Cars because they always have the best rates and great customer service.

🎡 Plan tours and activities

Viator is an excellent place to start looking for activities. They provide a huge selection and great prices.

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Astrid Chacon

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